|Cover Rating: ★★★★☆|
Series: Katerina Alexandrovna, #2
Author: Robin Bridges
Pages: 309 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Lush and opulent, romantic and sinister, The Unfailing Light, Volume II in The Katerina Trilogy, reimagines the lives of Russia's aristocracy in a fabulously intoxicating and page-turning fantasy.
Having had no choice but to use her power has a necromancer to save Russia from dark forces, Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, now wants to forget that she ever used her special powers. She's about to set off to pursue her lifelong dream of attending medical school when she discovers that Russia's arch nemesis--who she thought she'd destroyed--is still alive. So on imperial orders, Katerina remains at her old finishing school. She'll be safe there, because the empress has cast a potent spell to protect it against the vampires and revenants who are bent on toppling the tsar and using Katerina for their own gains. But to Katerina's horror, the spell unleashes a vengeful ghost within the school, a ghost more dangerous than any creature trying to get in.
Instead of returning us to the wonderful and terrible Russia full of sparkle and the supernatural, The Unfailing Light brings us to Greece, where Katiya is vacationing with her family before she heads off to medical school in Zurich. It took me a little while to get reacquainted with this world and the characters, since it's been nearly a year since I read the first book, but the author does a good job of reminding us what has happened and setting up the new conflict.
Of course, plans change, and Katiya is thrust back to St. Petersburg (yay!). The tsar is afraid that an old nemesis will return and he cannot keep Katiya safe outside of their own country, much to her dismay. However, she's not completely safe inside the walls of her school either. It's even more important now that Katiya learn to harness and control her powers if she wants to keep herself, her friends and family alive. Unfortunately, the spell cast on the school to protect the girls nulls Katiya's necromancer abilities. She can't access even her most basic powers, let alone develop them. I was very disappointment by this aspect of the story, since I was excited to see her come into her powers.
In addition to the possible return of Konstantin, there's also a ghost at the school. This plot thread seemed very random, and wasn't very interesting, even after the big reveal at the end. The ghost barely got any attention at all, until about two-thirds in, and even then, there's nothing Katiya can do about her, since her powers are suppressed. It seems like all of the important events happened away from Katiya, which bothered me. There's also an added mystery about Princess Alix, which I enjoyed and didn't see coming at all! I hope we get more of her in the next book.
I think this was a case of Middle Book Syndrome, but The Unfailing Light wasn't as sparkly or exciting as The Gathering Storm. Yes, some interesting things happened, but I don't feel like the plot moved forward that much. I'm definitely eager for the final book though, since I can't think of a way for any of Katiya's problems to be solved. I'm sure the author has something awesome up her sleeve for the finale!
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